"If the church in America would only get this ONE thing..."
Those who came to Equip07 know how I feel right now: piles of mail on my desk; emails crowding my in-box; ill-prepared sermon notes crammed in my Bible; and, most unfortunately, a fresh stream of ministry ideas rushing my head.
The diagnosis is grim. Post-Conference Distress Disorder (DSM-IV, p. 870) can be treated with a prescription of caffeine, extended office hours, and increased cardiovascular attention (to counteract the overconsumption of starch at Alpha Dining Commons). Left untreated, the disease could lead to impulsive 'changes of direction' and irregular bouts of crying.
Simon, a pastor from Ohio, admitted, "This is my first conference in four years. I loved all the sessions, but hated the aftermath: Each time I returned home, I felt like I had to rebuild the church."
"This conference gets me every year," wept Marilyn, a missionary in Singalaria. "Since 1999, every time I've returned to the village, we've taken a new route, a new banner. I believe the indigenous people are finally catching on."
Change is good. It is gospel. And according to the keynote speaker, "It is the most important thing for the church to grasp." Then again, so is the understanding of our identity in Christ, touted Neil Anderson. Or, said Jim Brown, "Going Fishing" is the only begotten essential for the Fellowship.
These were the three people I conferred with during Equip07, who told me the three ONE things I needed to know/practice/teach. These were the three people who have me wondering what other ONE things I missed--from post-modernism to church-planting to worship-leading--which, if known/practiced/taught, would result in local church vitality.
As a sale, three-for-one is a bargain. As a doctrine, three-for-one is a mystery. As a brethren, three-for-one is an ordinance. But as the pastor of a local church, three ONE things is a dizzying disorder.
Don't misread me: Fresh ministry perspectives are essential for pastors. Dialogue and ongoing personal maturity will only better suit our churches. Moreover, speakers and workshop leaders have to be convicted about their material--even to the point of bursting neck veins.
Nonetheless, we should recognize if not treated as a compliment to the mission of our local churches, each ONE idea becomes competition. Conferences may tell us to juggle, but experience reveals that simplicity is more effective.
Acknowledging this has cured me.